By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor
Editor’s note: Motorsports Tribune will be previewing the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season for the top-30 drivers in the series leading into next month’s 60th running of the Daytona 500.
Years in Cup: 13
Career Wins: Eight
Clint Bowyer went through a career rejuvenation in 2017 with his move to Stewart-Haas Racing and the No. 14 car vacated by Tony Stewart. After suffering through his worst season ever the year before, Bowyer was back to being his old self and back up front and contending for race wins once again.
Though he didn’t score a win last season, Bowyer and crew chief Mike Bugarewicz made sure and let everyone know they were there, ending the season with six top-five finishes (three runner-up finishes), 13 top-10 finishes, 22 laps led, and an average finish of 15.5. Bowyer climbed as high as eighth in points before finishing the year in 18th.
“We were spraying it all over the place,” said Bowyer. “Good runs, good qualifying efforts sometimes, then two terrible ones, then run good again. It was like, ‘What the hell is going on?’ We were fast one week and not in the game the next week. You couldn’t figure out a pattern. Didn’t have that baseline where we could just unload each week and fine tune it from there. It was unload good one week and the next time off the truck it was in left field and struggled all week long with it.”
With a year together under their belt, Bowyer and Bugarewicz will be teaming up once again in 2018 as they look to improve on their 2017 performance numbers. If they can avoid some of the bad luck that befell them last season, the No. 14 team should be a strong contender to score a race win or two, breaking Bowyer’s winless streak that dates back to 2012, and make it into the playoffs.
“We would have good runs and bad runs and I really look for Stewart-Haas to smooth those things out,” he added. “That manufacturer change was the best thing, in my opinion, that they have done in a long time. You are going to have growing pains because you have to learn a whole new everything. From your database to the aero platform to all that stuff. To have that behind us, the winter, the off-season has been way easier. It was pretty chaotic last year. I think we have weathered that storm and we are ready.”